Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We have provided below a list of FAQs split into sections. Please click on the pink links which will expand to show you each of the FAQs within that section.

Information about anaesthesia

What happens during general anaesthesia?
Will I meet my anaesthetist before the operation?
What are the risks of general anaesthesia?
How common is awareness or waking up during general anaesthesia? Will I dream?
Can you be allergic to anaesthetics?
I am due to have two anaesthetics within a very short time. Is there an increased risk in having two anaesthetics close together?
A relative recently developed a problem with breathing after an operation and was told that she had suxamethonium apnoea. What is this condition, is it inherited, and should I be tested for it?
Where can I find information about epidurals?
For my cataract operation I will be awake with my eye numbed. What am I likely to see?
What does regional anaesthesia mean and what is a nerve block?

Preparing for your operation

How can I prepare for an anaesthetic?
Why do I need to take off makeup and nail varnish?
Why does the anaesthetist want to know about my teeth?
Should I take my normal medication on the day of the operation?
Why do I need to stop eating and drinking before the operation?
Should I stop taking recreational drugs before my anaesthetic?
Should I tell my child about their anaesthetic?
Do I need to let the anaesthetist know that I’m pregnant/breastfeeding?
I’m feeling very anxious about my anaesthetic, what can I do?

What to expect after the operation

What can I expect after my operation?
Will I feel sick or nauseous after my anaesthetic? What can my anaesthetist do to help?
What will I feel like when I wake up?
I have problems with my prostate – will I have difficulty passing urine afterwards?
Am I likely to be confused after my operation?
How long do the effects of an anaesthetic or sedation last? Do I need someone at home with me?
When can I go home after surgery and what happens when I return home?
What does the term ‘enhanced recovery’ mean?

When can I drive after the operation?

Enquiries to the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA)

Can the RCoA offer advice to patients about treatment?
Can the RCoA recommend an anaesthetist or advise on the competence of an anaesthetist?
Can the RCoA provide expert witnesses?
Can the RCoA offer advice if I want to complain about the treatment I have received or the anaesthetist who treated me?

Questions you may want to ask your anaesthetist or the nurse at your preoperative visit or assessment

It may be helpful to try and get the answers to any questions you might have well in advance of your scheduled surgery. Below is a list of issues you may wish to discuss with your anaesthetist or nurse.

  1. If I have a cold should I let you know before I come in?
  2. Should I take my normal medication on the day of the operation?
  3. When should I stop eating and drinking?
  4. I’m rather nervous; can I have a premed?
  5. I don’t like needles; do I have to have an injection?
  6. I’ve been told I have poor veins when I go for blood tests, will that be a problem?
  7. I am a diabetic. How do I control my blood sugar before and afterwards?
  8. Are there any particular risks from the anaesthetic for me?
  9. May I leave my false teeth in?
  10. Do I need to remove my hearing aids?
  11. How soon will the feeling return after a regional anaesthesia or nerve block?
  12. What painkillers should I have at home?
  13. When can I drive after an operation?
  14. Can I go home alone following my anaesthetic?

If you have any further general requests or queries concerning anaesthesia, please contact However, please note that the College cannot give advice to individuals concerning their treatment.


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